GEORGE TOWN - Within an hour of T. Nhaveen's death, his friends and family members - both sad and angry - filled the ground floor of Penang Hospital's Block A.
More than 50 of them crowded the second floor hallway where he had been warded while many more packed the ground floor, spilling out of the entrance way onto the hospital grounds.
A pall of grief hung over the area, the quiet occasionally pierced by bitter sobs.
Nhaveen's mother D. Shanti was beyond words and needed to be supported.
At press time, hospital authorities and police have not disclosed the cause of death.
It is learnt that Nhaveen's body was immediately sent for a post-mortem.
The death of Nhaveen has now been re-classified as murder, said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
The case was initially being investigated under Section 148 of the Penal Code for rioting with weapons.
By 8.30pm, most of the family and friends had moved to wait at the mortuary, hoping to know the cause.
Nhaveen died at 5.31pm yesterday, shortly after friend T. Previin was wheeled out of the operating theatre after surgery to his right eye.
Previin's family could not bear to tell him that his best friend had died. His uncle, M.G.R. Devan, said Previin was still sedated.
One of the attackers had hit Previin in the face, possibly with a helmet, and fractured a bone just beneath his eye, leaving it fully bloodshot since the attack on June 10.
Nhaveen's uncle R. Thiyagarajan asked for some privacy for the family.
"Please give our family a moment. We were hoping for a miracle after all our prayers and candlelight vigil," he said in a voice thick with grief.
Lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh, who represented the family, confirmed that a post-mortem was immediately carried out.
"We believe that former Penang Hospital senior consultant forensic pathologist Datuk Dr Bhupinder Singh is personally attending to the case," he said.
Nhaveen and Previin were allegedly beaten up by five youths, believed to be their ex-schoolmates, while buying burgers in Jalan Kaki Bukit, Bukit Gelugor.
Previin escaped, while Nhaveen was later found unconscious in a field with serious injuries including burns on his back and signs that a blunt object had been shoved into his anus.